A Friendly Guide to Setting Up Digital Devices for Seniors - Amber Courtal

A Friendly Guide to Setting Up Digital Devices for Seniors

December 27, 2023

Setup is a Big First Step…

In a world that’s constantly evolving digitally, seniors are finding new and exciting ways to connect, engage, and enjoy the benefits of technology. Whether it’s staying in touch with loved ones, accessing information, or simply enjoying entertainment, digital devices have become valuable companions. In this reader-friendly guide, we’ll walk through the process of setting up digital devices for seniors, ensuring a seamless and enjoyable experience in today’s digital world.

Step 1: Choose the Right Device

The first step in this journey is selecting a device that aligns with the user’s preferences and comfort level. Tablets, smartphones, and user-friendly computers are popular choices. Opt for devices with larger screens, clear displays, and simple interfaces. Brands like Apple, Samsung, and Amazon offer devices known for their user-friendly design and functionality.

Step 2: Internet Connection Matters

Once the device is chosen, the next step is to ensure a reliable internet connection. A stable Wi-Fi connection ensures seamless access to online resources, social media, and video calls. If needed, seek assistance to set up and secure a Wi-Fi network at home, guaranteeing a smooth digital experience.

Step 3: Personalize Settings for Comfort

Personalization is key to making the digital experience enjoyable for seniors. Adjust font sizes, screen brightness, and other accessibility features to cater to individual preferences. Most devices have built-in accessibility options that make it easier for seniors with visual or hearing impairments to navigate.

Step 4: Essential Apps and Features

Introduce seniors to essential apps and features that cater to their needs. Messaging apps like WhatsApp or FaceTime help them stay connected with family and friends through video calls. Email apps provide a convenient way to send and receive messages. Weather apps, news apps, and health-tracking apps can be valuable additions based on individual interests.

Elderly woman using a tablet for digital games
Digital games are great for the brain!

Mind games, puzzles and word games are priceless – and they usually cost nothing (with ads) or only a few dollars (for ad-free versions). These simple, low-cost games and apps can turn idle time into brain exercise time! Find out what your senior likes… crossword? Word finds? Spatial puzzles? The device is only as useful as how well it’s customized for the person using it, so make it fun!

Step 5: Social Media Connection

Encourage seniors to explore social media platforms like Facebook or Instagram to connect with friends and family. You may want to help them, at first, to connect with only accounts you know can be trusted. These platforms are excellent

Senior citizen using a tablet to find online interest groups
There are endless online forums and groups of people with common interests!

for sharing updates, photos, and staying in the loop with loved ones. Walk them through the process of creating an account, adjusting privacy settings, and navigating their newsfeed.

 

What are the senior’s personal interests? It doesn’t matter – there’s sure to be a group (or several) for it! Whether it’s crochet, fishing, cooking, gardening, personal health, the list goes on… these groups are a wonderful way for seniors to meet like-minded people in a safe environment while enjoying the things they love. In less than 10 minutes, you can connect the user-to-be with a few groups to fill their feeds with interesting content and discussions they’d like to join.

Step 6: Video Calls Made Easy

Senior man using tablet to video chat with family kids
Keeping connected is critical!

Video calls are a fantastic way for seniors to feel close to their loved ones, especially if they’re physically distant. Teach them how to make video calls using apps like Zoom, Skype, or FaceTime… whichever app is most used by those they’re most likely to call. Explain the steps for initiating calls, pre-adjust camera settings, and they can start enjoying face-to-face conversations from the comfort of their homes. Make it easy – many of these apps allow you to put “shortcuts” on the home screen, so users can make their most frequent calls with a single tap!

Step 7: Explore Entertainment Options

Elderly man using a tablet for entertainment
Digital devices mean endless favorites at their fingertips!

Digital devices open a world of entertainment for seniors. Introduce them to streaming services like Netflix (click for senior savings) or Amazon Prime for movies and TV shows. Zinnia TV is a fabulous (and affordable) choice for those living with dementia. Music streaming services like Spotify or Apple Music provide access to a vast library of songs. Show them how to download and enjoy their favorite entertainment at their leisure.

Step 8: Online Learning Opportunities

For seniors interested in learning new skills or exploring hobbies, online learning platforms offer a plethora of

Senior citizen using a tablet for online learning
Digital devices can open the door to lifelong learning!

opportunities. Websites like Coursera, Udemy, or Khan Academy provide courses on a wide range of subjects. Many websites, including Google, offer courses (even career certificates) at no cost! Help them set up accounts, navigate course content, and embark on a journey of lifelong learning… one of the strongest ways to prevent cognitive decline and depression!

Step 9: Digital Safety and Security

Educate seniors about digital safety and security practices. Emphasize the importance of strong, unique passwords, and teach them to recognize potential online threats. Regularly update the device’s software to ensure it has the latest security features. Try not to use the device for personal business so that you can assure the person using the device that no legitimate company will ever contact them via this device. In other words, make it as low-risk as possible!

Step 10: Ongoing Support and Encouragement

Finally, offer ongoing support and encouragement as seniors explore the digital world. Patience is key, and reassurance goes a long way. Be available to answer questions, troubleshoot issues, and share in their excitement as they discover the endless possibilities that digital devices bring. It may even be helpful to write the steps down on paper for the user to reference as they get used to digital navigation.

Endless rewards!

Setting up digital devices for seniors is a journey filled with exploration, learning, and connection. It can connect them with the world, fill their time with healthy mental activity and even open new chapters in their lives! By following these reader-friendly steps, we can empower seniors to navigate the digital world with confidence, enthusiasm… and safety. In embracing technology, seniors not only enhance their daily lives but also become more active participants in the ever-evolving digital society we live in, reducing the impact of the loneliness epidemic. Here’s to a new chapter of discovery and connected living in the digital realm!